Community - December 7, 2011

Holiday Fund: Libby has new lease on life due to local health center

By Kathleen Alexander, communications director, Ravenswood Family Health Center.

Like many uninsured, Libby Adibi delayed seeking medical care even when she knew what was wrong. She had a tumor in the sinus cavity, like one removed 12 years earlier.

She let it go for two years even though it was difficult to breathe and a "slow depression" made it difficult to keep up with her firewood business, her livelihood.

She finally sought help at Ravenswood Family Health Canter, where she was assigned to Dr. Justin Wu, associate medical director at the Belle Haven Clinic.

"When I saw her the first time, she was having severe headaches on a daily basis," he says. "Without insurance, without a primary care home, she had no way to get specialty care or to know about resources available to her. Once I saw how serious her situation was, I was able, through our referral system, to get her into specialty care at Stanford."

On Oct. 25, Libby underwent a surgery that removed a tumor the size of an orange. She recalls coming to and realizing that the depression had lifted.

"It was amazing," she says. "I was in and out the same day."

Sitting amidst the firewood she's selling, she says with a hearty laugh, "Now when friends ask me what are you doing, I say, 'I'm sitting here quietly and breathing.'"

Ravenswood Family Health Center's Belle Haven Clinic provides a medical home for 2,300 of the 10,300 patients estimated to be seen at Ravenswood in 2011.

It offers comprehensive health care for all ages, including primary medical care, behavioral health and dental care services, serving low-income and uninsured families living in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Ninety-five percent of its patients are Latino, African American and Pacific Islanders; 90 percent earn incomes at or below the federal poverty level.*

In the past two years, with a major boost from a Sequoia Healthcare District grant, Belle Haven increased staffing.

"We've been able to extend services to more people and to include behavioral health and chronic disease management, and open up access for the patients to utilize our new dental clinic," Dr. Wu says.

Access to primary care leads to early intervention, thereby reducing expensive emergency care and hospitalization. This is a cornerstone in health care reform.

As a nonprofit, federally qualified health center, RFHC ensures that everyone who seeks care receives compassionate, quality comprehensive health care.

Visit or call (650) 330-7418 for more information about the Ravenswood Family Health Center.

* The federal poverty level is annual income of $22,350 for a family of four.


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields